I finally got round to playing one of Nintendo’s iOS releases, namely Fire Emblem Heroes. Due to my lack of a mobile phone I never got into the Pokémon Go craze that swept the globe. Neither did I partake in Super Mario Run, because I am not a fan of the auto-runner genre. Fire Emblem Heroes was a day one download for me though, as I have been a fan of the series ever since I played Fire Emblem 7 on the Gameboy Advance. There’s no risk in trying out this portable strategy RPG given that it costs nowt to install. I welcome entertainment that is gratis in these financially tough times. Just the other day I discovered that the cost of my favourite leafy vegetable has doubled due to a poor harvest. Well enough grocery moaning, lettuce get on with the review.
Fire Emblem Heroes puts players in the role of a tactician who must stop a loli sorceress from seizing control of Askar – a magical kingdom that houses gateways leading to the various Fire Emblem worlds. To triumph budding generals lead their troops against enemies whose ranks include clumsy maids and big-breasted ladies who ride atop wyverns (I wouldn’t mind Camilla riding my dragon hurr hurr.) All the tactical goodness one would expect from a Fire Emblem title is here, although some of the gameplay mechanics have been streamlined to better suit mobile audiences. Battles for example are waged on maps that are just one screen big and player controlled armies are limited to four warriors per skirmish.
One feature absent from Fire Emblem Heroes is permadeath. Units who perish in battle will revive once a level concludes, although incapacitated heroes will lose out on any experience accrued during that mission. Thank goodness that death is temporary because new soldiers are recruited by using up precious summon orbs. Said orbs are awarded for completing story levels and after that you’ll need to fork out real money to obtain more. If you are a cheapskate it’s possible to enlist the aid of low rank characters by completing daily challenges. Two star heroes aren’t great, but can be promoted in exchange for feathers obtainable via PVP. If you plan to promote someone to rank five be aware that you’ll need to collect more feathers than an OCD Assassin’s Creed player.
My rating for Fire Emblem Heroes is four stars. Despite its bite sized design Heroes manages to deliver the fun tactical combat Fire Emblem is renowned for. I like how levels can be speedily completed within minutes, but still retain a degree of strategy. Although more casual that other titles in the series you’ll still need to position troops correctly to take advantage of the infamous weapon triangle (archers are strong versus flying units, lancers deal bonus damage to swordsmen, lizard beats Spock etc.) Fans of the franchise will also enjoy how it is possible to amass an army comprised of stars from previous games. Who you enlist via summoning is totally random, which will annoy some people but I am okay with the character lottery. As an avid Hearthstone player I am well acquainted with the system of paying for RNG determined rewards.
Will I still be playing Fire Emblem Heroes a year from now? Only time will tell. I suspect grinding levels, dealing with the stamina bar that limits how much you can play per session and being pressured into buying orbs will wear down my enthusiasm eventually. All that said, at the time of writing, I have been playing Heroes for almost two weeks without spending a dime. Even if I elect to abandon the game tomorrow that’s terrific value for money. One could cite any number of full priced games that fail to retain a player’s interest for that long. No Man’s Sky for example gets stale far quicker than Fire Emblem Heroes and The Order 1886 has less content despite its hefty price tag. Forty quid for something that can be completed in a few hours? Bah, I could buy several lettuces for that fee.